Common African Voodoo Ceremonies and Rituals

Voodoo worshippers are known to dedicate a great portion of their life to the worship of voduns. They offer sacrifices, blood, thanks giving and prayers to these deities. They do this in order to seek advice, good luck and establish a connection with the spiritual world.

Voodoo rituals and ceremonies are either done publicly by her followers or done privately between the priest, priestess and the follower.

Manje Yanm: This is a ceremony done to celebrate the harvest of yams. The first best yam is given to Lwa Ginen before any of the harvested yams is consumed. There is no fixed date for this ceremony but is often done whenever the yams are harvested.

In Haiti, this ceremony honors the Agricultural Lwa Azaka and the worshippers are often dressed in white.

Fete for a Lwa: this is a public ceremony where voodoo followers gather together to worship Lwa. A Fete may be dedicated to all the Lwa in Ginen or to a particular Lwa.

During the ceremony, the congregations dance and sing praises to Priye Ginen which links the Fete to a spirit in Ginen.

Dancing and drumming continues until the Lwa joins the fete through possession.  The possessed individuals prophesy, cleanse and provide solutions to problems and bless the congregation.

Feast of the Dead:

 This feast is celebrated in honor of the deceased, two to three moons after burial. For this, a sow is sacrificed, while an elderly woman prays to the dead to ask them about the future of the family of the deceased. She interprets four lobes of sacred nuts which she launches under the protection of the ancestors. Then, the day after the party, each father kills a pig or an ox to offer to the deceased.

Egungun Ceremony:

Egungun in Yoruba means: “the soul of the dead that has returned to the earth for a short time to pass an advice”. During Egungun ceremony, the ancestors are represented in human forms and one or more dancers become possessed with these spirits. The possessed individuals start prophesying.  In voodoo death is not the end of life as the dead can be seen communicating with the living.

Orisha -Ibéji is the cult of twins. Twin children are considered a blessing of voduns. This is a widely celebrated phenomenon, as the twins embody the Mawu-Lisa duality.

They are treated as gods because they bring luck to the family and the clan.  The spirit of the Ibeji is so strong in that the death of a twin can lead to the death of the other or cause him life’s challenges.

Voodoo Possession

Possession is a sacred ritual that only a few people can practice. Their bodies are chosen from birth by vodun. These individuals become possessed with the spirit of voduns. When a woman is possessed by this superior deity she might not feel pain and can pierce her cheeks with a needle, throw sand in her eyes or swallow fire. However, no blood will flow from her cheeks, no tears from her eyes and her tongue will not be burned.

During possession, the voodooists worship the possessed and listen to the words the vodun speaks through the possessed. The possessed individuals solve the problems of the followers and grant healings. On the other hand, to be able to control the possession, the body of the person must first learn to live without his spirit. To do this, we bring the chosen medium into the forest where the vodun of Sakpata is. He then takes possession of the soul and the person loses consciousness.

The soul dies and joins the ancestral voodoo who will decide his fate. The body is wrapped in a closed room outside the village without water or food. He will stay there for three days after which the body is taken back to the village and removed from the sheets.

A rooster is placed on the body to purify him then the priestess invokes the voduns to release the soul of the vessel. After these rituals the individual can become a vessel through which the voduns speak.